It is difficult for people to understand the work stoppage in the National Hockey League.
Canadians seem to be caught on the horns of a dilemma. They love their hockey.It is seen as a significant part of our cultural DNA.It is almost as if they were being deprived of necessary oxygen. Many have a hard time of conceiving a long winter without the hockey fix. Americans of course have a serious addictio to football. But this only gets you to January.
On the other hand. most Canadians are generally stunned that people making so much money are striking, thus denying the put-upon fans a significant part of their lives. They seem to be asking,”what world are these people living in?” during a time of economic turndown when many have been downsized. They know the landscape but do not know how to proceed in this new moment.
Every country has their version of SOMA the fictional narcotic consumed by the denizens of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Sports has always filled the vacuum in people’s lives.People seem to place great importance on this escapism. Marx reminded us that sad is the country or people who need such heroes who need these vicarious outlets..
Sports has too often filled this existential void in people’s lives,”Bread and circuses” as the Roman writer Juvenal called the gladiatorial games in ancient Rome. Give the people welfare and diversions. Canada is particularly sad in that the national broadcaster the CBC gives Don Cherry a platform to spout his noxious opinions—his support of war and dislike of foreign-born hockey players.
In 1994 the last stoppage many fans said that is it, I am done with these people.Most came back.The addiction remained.They needed the narcotic and in Toronto the evergreen hope of a Maple Leaf resurgence.
They could not find an alternative to the Saturday Night existential neurosis.
I watch with sadness—at a Gary Bettman, the shill for the owners making $8 million a year and Don Fehr, the players’ man $3 million…both grossly overpaid. and living in a bubble.
But that’s capitalism, a terrible system, one which rewards escapism, waste and injustice.
As far as pro sports cultural critic Lewis mumford said it best in the 40s:“Sport is one of the least effective reactions against the machine.”